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Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120

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Do bilinguals have two personalities? A special
case of cultural frame switching夽
Nairán Ramírez-Esparzaa,¤, Samuel D. Goslinga,
Verónica Benet-Martínezb, JeVrey P. Potterc,
James W. Pennebakera,¤
a
Department of Psychology, The University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA
b
University of California, Riverside, CA, USA
c
Atof Inc., Box 390255, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA

Available online 21 November 2004

Abstract

Four studies examined and empirically documented Cultural Frame Switching (CFS;
Hong, Chiu, & Kung, 1997) in the domain of personality. SpeciWcally, we asked whether Span-
ish–English bilinguals show diVerent personalities when using diVerent languages? If so, are
the two personalities consistent with cross-cultural diVerences in personality? To generate pre-
dictions about the speciWc cultural diVerences to expect, Study 1 documented personality
diVerences between US and Mexican monolinguals. Studies 2–4 tested CFS in three samples of
Spanish–English bilinguals, located in the US and Mexico. Findings replicated across all three
studies, suggesting that language activates CFS for Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Consci-
entiousness. Further analyses suggested the Wndings were not due to anomalous items or trans-
lation eVects. Results are discussed in terms of the interplay between culture and self.
© 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Preparation of this paper was made possible by a grant from the National Institutes of Health
(MH52391). We are deeply indebted to Lizette Bustamante, Isabel Eguez, and Andrea García for their
help in running the experiments. Special thanks are also extended to Carla Groom for comments on earlier
versions of the paper.
*
Corresponding authors.
E-mail addresses: nairan@mail.utexas.edu (N. Ramírez-Esparza), Pennebaker@psy.utexas.edu (J.W.
Pennebaker).

0092-6566/$ - see front matter © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2004.09.001

100 N. Ramírez-Esparza et al. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120

Keywords: Cultural frame switching; Personality; Bicultural; Bilinguals

1. Introduction

“Learn a new language and get a new soul” (Czech proverb)
By some estimates, half the world’s population is bilingual and many others are
multilingual (Grosjean, 1982). With regard to this group, it has often been noted,
sometimes by bilinguals themselves, that bilinguals express diVerent personalities
when they speak in diVerent languages. Indeed, previous research has even provided
some support for the idea that language inXuences bilinguals’ responses to value-
related surveys (e.g., Ralston, CunniV, & Gustafson, 1995). One of the most compel-
ling theoretical explanations for these phenomena is the Cultural Frame Switching
eVect (CFS; Hong, Chiu, & Kung, 1997; Hong, Morris, Chiu, & Benet-Martínez,
2000), where bicultural individuals shift values and attributions in the presence of
culture-relevant stimuli.
Bicultural individuals are those who have two internalized cultures that can guide
their feelings, thoughts, and actions (Hong et al., 2000; LaFromboise, Coleman, &
Gerton, 1993). Recent research on bicultural individuals has shown that the presence
of culture-speciWc cues can elicit culture-speciWc attributions and values. For
instance, in one series of studies, Chinese American biculturals displayed more inter-
nal attributions when primed with American icons (e.g., American Xag, Superman),
and more external attributions when primed with Chinese icons (e.g., Chinese
dragon, Great Wall) (Benet-Martínez, Leu, Lee, & Morris, 2002; Hong et al., 2000).
Similarly, Hong Kong Chinese and Chinese Americans generated more collective
self-descriptions when their Chinese identity was activated, than did North Ameri-
cans. On the other hand, North Americans and Chinese Americans generated more
individual self-descriptions, when their American identity was activated, than did
Hong Kong Chinese (Hong, Ip, Chiu, Morris, & Menon, 2001).
Bilinguals tend to be bicultural (e.g., LaFromboise et al., 1993). So one potential
explanation for the language-dependent changes observed in bilinguals’ personalities
is that these individuals undergo a cultural frame switch when they change from one
language to another. Previous research has provided some support for the idea that
language can prime bilinguals’ responses to surveys (Bond & Yang, 1982; Ralston et
al., 1995; Yang & Bond, 1980). In one study, Chinese bilinguals who responded to a
questionnaire in English endorsed more values and norms associated with the
English-speaking world than did Chinese bilinguals who responded to the same ques-
tionnaire in Chinese (Bond & Yang, 1982); however their Wndings were mixed and
they even identiWed the opposite pattern in some cases. In a more recent investiga-
tion, Hong Kong bilingual-Chinese managers who responded to a values question-
naire in English displayed means closer to a group of American managers in the US
than did the bilingual-Chinese managers who responded to the same questionnaire in
Chinese (Ralston et al., 1995).

but also a way of determining that mean levels are not due to diVer- ential functioning of the questionnaire items across cultures. Bond. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 101 Such eVects have been explained in terms of cultural accommodation (Bond & Yang. N. For this to occur. McCrae. This is because the language itself primes the bilinguals’ culture-speciWc values. Past research on cross-language personality diVerences using bilinguals Despite the widespread belief that one’s language inXuences one’s personality. if there are no diVerences between monolinguals in each culture. For example. these credentials should include not only a history of replication of eVects across cultures. used more achievement themes in English than in French. These considerations suggest that any changes in personality due to language could be subtle. cross-cultural inXuences). these diVerences were attributed to a measurement artifact. and Paulhus (1998) did report language-related diVerences in personality in a large sample of bilingual Hong Kong undergraduates. 1982). When they respond to a questionnaire in their second language. Yik. First. however. it should be established that cross-cultural diVerences in personality exist.1. Thus. attitudes. However.. a phenomenon that is conceptually equivalent to CFS. Ervin (1964) examined whether French–English bilinguals would show diVerent personalities when responding to the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) in English versus French. replica- tion across populations should be sought.g. when biling- uals answer an instrument in their native language their responses will reXect the val- ues and attitudes associated with that language. a test of CFS in bilinguals would include the following three features.g. A few intriguing Wnd- ings emerged. Ramírez-Esparza et al. Thus. Third. Ideally. cultural accommodation is seen when bilinguals respond to situations (e. but not men. when completing a questionnaire) in a manner that accommodates or favors the culture associated with the language they are currently using. how could CFS be used to explain any observed diVerences when bilinguals are tested in their two lan- guages? Second. their responses to a questionnaire). given the poten- tial subtlety of the frame switching eVects and the possibility that any eVects reXect local or transitory inXuences (rather than robust. it is not clear whether CFS occurs in personality traits. 1. But other studies report personality diVerences in bilinguals and do explain the Wndings as a function of cultural shifts. We next review the past research and eval- uate it with respect to these three features. one Wnding suggested that women participants. research on CFS shows that bilinguals display diVerent values and attitudes when responding to questionnaires in diVerent languages. very few studies have looked at the eVects of language usage on personality. Trapnell. Much like CFS. which in turn aVect that behavior (e. Ervin inferred that women used more achieve- ments themes in English because American culture is less concerned with social roles . an instrument should be used that has established cross-cultural cre- dentials. language would have to be a suYciently strong cue to activate a response and personality would have to be suYciently malleable to shift in response to the cues. and memories. they may favor norms and values associated with that language. showing glimpses of support for a CFS phenomenon.. For example.

1. Moreover. More evidence that language is related to personality was provided by a study using the California Psychological Inventory (CPI) in Spanish–English bilinguals (Hull. Hull argues that this Wnding results from the widespread belief that the American–English culture. Hull (1996) conjectured that bilinguals showed this tendency because in the Spanish- speaking culture. but not American. Ervin also found more verbal aggression toward peers in French stories than in English stories. 1973). Third. Finally. we tested whether Spanish–English bilinguals display diVerent personalities in Spanish and English in ways that reXect the personality tendencies . For example. as in Ervin’s study. at the pinnacle of individualistic culture. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 than is French culture (e. 1980. there exists a personality questionnaire that has been extensively examined and validated in both Spanish and English.g.2.102 N. Although Hull’s study (1996) also provides some support for CFS. they are subjected to three limitations. 2000. the role of housewife is more part of the French culture than the American culture). She speculated that this was because French. as Hull himself points out. bilinguals showed more Intellectual EYciency when responding in English rather than in Spanish. First. 1991). The results showed some support for the CFS eVect. families tend to withdraw after disagreement. 1991). Second. 1995). In addi- tion. She suggested that this was due to the fact that French education emphasizes the use of oral argument in defense of insults from oth- ers. Ramírez-Esparza et al. 1972). as in Ervin’s study. she found that themes of autonomy were more common in French sto- ries than in English stories. And. bil- inguals’ scores in the Good Impression factor were higher in Spanish than in English. no com- parative evidence was given regarding the kind of stories French-speaking people liv- ing in France and English-speaking people living in the US typically provide. 1985. like in other collectivist cultures. 1996). there is greater concern about interpersonal harmony and pleasing others (Marín & Marín. 1991. Building on the important earlier work of Ervin (1964) and Hull (1996). 1985. The present research The main goal of this research was to establish and empirically document the CFS eVect in the personality domain. We chose to study this phenomenon with Spanish– English bilinguals because there is a widespread belief that Spanish speakers have very diVerent values and attitudes from English-speakers (Benet-Martínez & John. the cross-cultural generalizability of the TAT was not established. Madsen & Kagan. First. Díaz-Guerrero & Szalay. Marín & Marín.. but they are far from conclusive. Eysenk. no evidence was provided for the replicability of the eVects in diVerent populations. In addition. Finally. it too suVers from a number of limitations. Hofstede. the CPI has been criticized as lacking a factorial foundation (see Domino. 1991. Gold- berg. the Wndings have not been replicated in multiple samples. emphasizes more achievement aspirations than does Spanish-speaking culture (Díaz-Guerrero & Szalay. no clear comparative evidence is provided regarding CPI diVerences between monolinguals who speak either English or Span- ish. Ervin’s (1964) Wndings provide some support for the CFS hypothesis. and also because group aYliation is valued more strongly (Shkodriani & Gibbons.

most of the bilinguals in our samples were either immigrants from Mexico now living in the US. we tested the robustness of the CFS eVects by seeking replication across samples. we judge the robustness of the eVects by their replicability across independent sam- ples rather than by their statistical signiWcance (Thompson. Two studies by . Rodríguez & Church. In particular we used within-subjects designs in three samples of Spanish–English bilinguals who completed both the Spanish and English version of a personality questionnaire. Several instruments have been developed to assess the Big Five dimensions. or second generation Mexican Americans (i. the instrument has been carefully translated to Spanish and rigorous tests have shown it to have good psychometric properties in English and Spanish-speaking samples (Benet-Martínez & John.e. respectively). 2003). and good psychometric properties (John. 1999). brevity. 1999). Mexican residents who learned English in the US. Furthermore. Wilkinson & the task force on statistical inference. Measurement of personality Which elements of personality should be examined? Given the scarcity of previous cross-cultural research using the same questionnaire in Spanish-speaking cultures vs. subsume a large number of even more speciWc traits (e. each bipolar factor (e. talka- tive. It is important to note that we relied only on bilinguals who met very high standards of bilingual proWciency. activate the relevant cognitive and aVective associations (Hong et al.g. we evaluated the robustness of the eVects by searching replication across samples in Mexico and the US.g. 1994. 1. More important.. More- over. 1999. John & Srivastava. then a failure to Wnd a language eVect would be inconclusive. Which of these is most appropriate for the current research? One scale stands out as being particularly well suited for our purposes: the Big Five Inventory (BFI)... Ramírez-Esparza et al. This instrument has enjoyed wide use in the Weld due to its eYciency. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 103 associated with each language–culture.3. US-born individuals whose parents are from Mexico). outgoing). Had we used lower standards of bilingual proWciency. The advantage of using high standards is that participants are very conWdent using both languages and can rea- sonably be assumed to adopt either language and. SpeciW- cally. Introversion) summarizes several more speciWc facets (e. 1990. Sociabil- ity). 1998. The disadvantage of using very high standards of bilingual proWciency is that large samples of true bilinguals are diYcult to Wnd. Extraversion vs. 2000). Thus. with small samples. As noted above. the instrument assessing those traits should be well established and should exist in multiple languages.. English-speaking Americans and Spanish-speaking Mexicans were the most appropriate comparison group because the majority of bilinguals to which we have access have a cultural background both from Mexico and the US. if the CFS eVect holds. The broadest and most widely used model of personality traits is provided by the Big-Five framework.. N.g. English-speaking cultures it is important to examine a broad array of traits. which in turn. In this framework. We started by generating predictions for the speciWc cultural diVerences to expect by examining personality diVerences between English and Spanish-speaking cultures (operationalized in this research as individuals living the US or Mexico.

Overview of research In four studies we tested the CFS eVect. energetic. and reXective. Neuroticism (8 items). often using diVerent . & Rodríguez de Díaz. aVectionate social interactions. whereas US culture values a response characterized as being active. with a sample of English speakers and Spanish speakers we derived predictions for the particular personality diVerences to expect. Lisansky. 2001) and “simpatía” (Triandis. Other traits that have been associated with the Mexican culture include abnega- tion and nonassertiveness (Díaz-Guerrero. Díaz-Loving. 2. resourceful. These studies did not assess Big Five traits directly and although they oVer some clues as to the kind of cross-cultural diVerences we might expect to Wnd in terms of the Big Five. Mexicans’ high socia- bility (associated with simpatía) suggests Mexicans should be higher than Americans on Extraversion but at the same time the Mexican dispositions of low assertiveness and abnegation suggest Mexicans should be lower than Americans on Extraversion. Díaz- Loving and Draguns (1999) described simpatía as being manifested in Mexican cul- ture in terms of individuals who value “expressive sociability. clear predictions are hard to make. whereas individuals from the US seek to confront them. we examined the replicability of the CFS phe- nomenon in three diVerent samples of bilinguals. 1999. Other research on responses to stressful situations has shown that Mexican culture values a response characterized as being peaceful. and tranquil. the BFI was adopted for the present research. Moreover. that ranges from 1 (disagree strongly) to 5 (agree strongly). 121). 1991). Study 1: Deriving predictions for expected personality diVerences What speciWc personality diVerences should be expected across English and Span- ish-speaking cultures? Previous research has reported some personality diVerences between individuals living in American and Mexican cultures. The Wve dimensions that the questionnaire measures are: Extraversion (8 items). Agreeableness (9 items). calm. and Openness (10 items). LaRosa & Díaz-Loving. positive mood states. For example.104 N. and avoid interpersonal conXict and negative behaviors. The Wrst two traits refer to a behavioral disposition to put others’ needs before one’s own needs. serene.4. Therefore. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 Benet-Martínez and John (1998) supported the generalizability of the instrument across student and working-class populations. & Betancourt. Both the English and Spanish BFI have 44 items with a 5-point Likert scale. 1. Marín. In Studies 2–4. Simpatía is a construct characterizing individuals who value positive behav- ior. many of the past studies draw conclusions about cross-cultural diVerences based on studies done within each culture independently. and tranquil attitudes” (p. and eVective (Díaz- Loving & Draguns. calm. For example. Ramírez-Esparza et al. In Study 1. 1984). Díaz- Guerrero (1982) found that Mexicans show an avoidant personality under stressful situations. Consci- entiousness (9 items). are agreeable. serene.

To accomplish this goal we needed a large and diverse sample of individuals living in the US and living in Mexico. the past studies do not provide suYcient evidence to make Wrm predictions about speciWc cross-cultural personality diVerences in terms of the Big Five. Ramírez-Esparza et al. Participants Participants were part of the data collected by means of the Gosling–Potter Internet Personality Project. 2003). 2. Srivastava. 28% upper-middle. 15% upper-middle. SpeciWcally. Vazire. This led us to use a medium of data collection that permits access to large numbers of willing participants all over the world: the Internet.84 (SD D 7. 2004). and we analyzed only those participants who indicated they had not taken the questionnaire before. the broad aim of Study 1 was to provide an empirical basis for making predictions about the personalities associated with English and Spanish-speaking cultures. 37% middle. and 9% lower-middle class. Their mean age was 27. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 105 questionnaires in the diVerent cultures and assessing constructs that are diYcult to place in a Big-Five framework. Their mean age was 24. which recruits volunteer participants all over the world through the Internet. research on the quality of internet data suggests that it is at least as good as that provided by traditional paper- and-pencil methods (Gosling et al. it is listed on portal .. although the cross-cultural research consis- tently suggests that Mexicans and Americans diVer in their personalities.1. quizzes. N. Gosling. Data collection through the World Wide Web has increased in popularity over recent years because it permits access to samples (in this case Spanish-speakers living in Mexico) beyond the reach of methods typically used in psychological research. as well as games. The Wnal sample of individuals living in the US who responded to the BFI in English was 168.1. 2004). and 8% lower-middle class. 16% working. Procedure Participants were recruited by means of a web site www.1. and other personality questionnaires (see Srivastava. 8% working. Potential participants can access the web site through several channels: it can be found with major search engines under key words such as personality tests. Their self-reported social class was 2% upper. although Internet users are not representative of the general population. our goal was to examine directly real personality diVerences between the two cultures in terms of the Big-Five framework. 46% middle.22).com that contains the BFI in both English and Spanish. In addition. Only those participants who indicated that they lived in Mexico or the US and whose ages ranged from 18 to 65 years were selected to par- ticipate.outofservice. & Potter. and because it aVords access to large heterogeneous samples (Gosling. 2. Therefore. 2004). John. & John.3). Thus.451 (44% men and 55% women). they are at least as diverse as other samples typically used in psychological research (Gosling et al.. Although one should be cautious about new methods.2. Method 2. The sample of individuals living in Mexico who responded to the BFI in Spanish was 1031 (34% men and 65% women).8 (SD D 9.1. Their self-reported social class was 2% upper.

The Wndings from this study point to a modest personality diVerences between English-speaking Americans and Spanish-speaking Mexicans.28 . atti- tudes. Agreeableness. Two web pages were used. Results and discussion To determine whether diVerent personality proWles were associated with the two cultures.. . for Mexico D 1031. we would expect the language of the questionnaire to prime in our bilingual participants’ culture-spe- ciWc values. p < .2. The data collection and scoring is automated.73 3. and memories (Hong et al. The one in English was entitled “All About You—A Guide to Your Personality” and the one in Spanish was entitled “Como Eres Tú—Una Guía de Tú Personalidad. the only diVerence was the language.10 . Of course.91 3. attitudes. 2000). and memories would aVect participants’ responses to the questionnaires.. These results suggest a speciWc set of predictions for the CFS phenomenon. the same instructions.71 Neuroticism 3. Ramírez-Esparza et al. such as Yahoo!.18 . / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 sites. In particular. all diVerences were statistically signiWcant and we instead focus on the direction of the eVects. Each time a partici- pant clicked on the “submit” bottom. such Table 1 Big Five personality scores of English-speakers in the US and Spanish-speakers in Mexico Factor United Sates (English) Mexico (Spanish) Mean SD Mean SD Extraversion 3. All diVerences are statistically signiWcant.88 3. For the Neuroticism factor.85 . As is common on the Internet.84 Openness 3. people in Mexico scored higher than people in the US.50 . Sample sizes for the US D 168.34 .67 Note. In turn these values.41 . appealing to their motivation to receive individ- ualized personality feedback for the purposes of self-insight or entertainment.106 N. 168. news of the site has also spread widely through informal channels such as emails or unso- licited links on other Web sites.74 3. under their directories of personality tests.com and signed up for its mailing list receive notiWcation when a new questionnaire is added. Conscien- tiousness.451 in the US and 1031 in Mexico).98 . Their speciWc scores were recorded and saved to a data base.66 3. 2.64 . providing participants with immedi- ate feedback about their personalities.e. and Openness than participants in Mexico. and questions.001. and individuals who have previously visited outofservice.67 Conscientiousness 3. Results showed that the participants in the US had higher means in Extraversion. their Big Five personality scores were computed and provided as feedback. with a sample so large (i.451.” Both web pages had the same physical appearance. Table 1 shows the means and standard deviations for each of the Wve factors.04 .85 Agreeableness 3. participants’ scores were aggregated within each of our two groups (English-speakers in the US and Spanish-speakers in Mexico) and were analyzed using independent t tests to identify personality diVerences.

we make no predic- tions about mean scores on the personality dimensions. Part of the sample was paid for their participation (n D 23). 3. Finally. a third measurement of bilingualism proWciency was taken using self-reports of proWciency and experience in both languages.1. In each meeting they completed a paper and pencil version of the BFI either in Spanish or in English. Participants A total of 25 Spanish–English bilinguals (10 men and 15 women) living in Austin. with the consequence that the sample was somewhat smaller than it would have been had we used lower bilingualism standards. N. This ques- tionnaire revealed that one participant’s Wrst language was not English or Spanish. Others received course credit (n D 2). we opted to use rigorous labor-intensive tests of bilingualism. Study 2: Bilinguals from Austin. Second. Consci- entiousness. Studies 2–4: Testing the cultural frame switching eVect in three independent samples of bilinguals The purpose of these additional studies was to test whether bilinguals switch their personality when they switch the language they are using when they respond to a questionnaire.1. First. and the order of language was counterbalanced across participants.2. After the second interview.1. our predictions focus on cross-language diVerences. and targets. As noted above we are primarily interested in eVects that replicate across independent samples of bilinguals. Agreeableness. and given the variations in methods. and lower scores in Neuroticism when responding in English compared to Spanish. two bilinguals decided not to participate further in the study. As noted above. Ramírez-Esparza et al. a face-to-face interview was conducted prior to the experiment in both English and Spanish where the researcher asked general back- ground questions to the participants and judged how conWdent the bilinguals used each language. 3. Measurement of bilingualism Two interviews were conducted to ensure the participants met our criteria for bilingualism. 3. but Portuguese. Thus. Their mean age was 25 (SD D 4. Texas. and Openness. Participants were recruited by means of Xyers. . a bilingual experimenter interviewed the potential participants by phone in both English and Spanish and judged whether the participants were conW- dently using both languages. Texas In this study bilinguals were asked to come to the lab on two occasions.1.65). participated. we will Wrst present the methods used in each of the three studies and then we will present the Wndings from all three studies together. 3. this participant was removed from the analyses. administration procedures. The meetings were conducted at least one week apart. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 107 that bilinguals will have higher mean scores in Extraversion. Note.

2. 3. Study 3: Bilinguals from the US and Mexico This study examined personality diVerences across languages in Spanish–English bilinguals.1.32) for Spanish. If participants gave a score of less than eight in any category.3. three additional bilinguals were excluded because their Wrst language was not English or Spanish. which was scheduled at least one week later. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 3.2. further testing the generalizability of the eVects.29). Procedure Bilinguals were interviewed on the phone twice. By using this technique. After removing 24 participants we were left with two small samples (n D 11 in the US.2. Measurement of bilingualism To measure language ability. 3. we were able to reach 54 participants (24 men and 30 women) living in the US (n D 32) or Mexico (n D 22).2. biling- uals provided answers to a background questionnaire and responded to oral . this method allowed us to interview bilinguals from all over the US and in Mexico. the study adopted a targeted strategy.6 (SD D 12. once in English and once in Span- ish. n D 19 in Mexico) so we combined them into a single sample (n D 30) to test our main hypothesis. The mean language-conWdence scores (averaged across writing. The Wnal sample consisted of 15 men and 15 women and had a mean age of 34. Procedure Bilinguals were asked to come to the lab on two occasions. In the Wrst meeting bil- inguals were interviewed by the experimenter (as part of the bilingualism screening) and they completed a background questionnaire and the BFI in either English or Spanish. Phone calls were conducted at least one week apart. Participants Because true bilinguals are exceedingly hard to identify and recruit. and listening. speak- ing. At end of the second meeting.20 (SD D 13.04 (SD D . The second meeting. reading. 3. speaking.02). Telephone numbers of 70 potential participants were collected. and listening comprehension) were 9. participants were debriefed and paid $20 for their participation (with the exception of two participants who took the study for class credit). Moreover.108 N. Furthermore. and 9. involved completing the BFI in whichever language they had not used in the Wrst session (English or Spanish). we were able to reach participants from a wider age range than those assessed in Study 2.1. reading. Their mean age was 33. Ramírez-Esparza et al. using nominations from colleagues and research assis- tants who knew bilinguals in the US or Mexico. bilinguals were asked to rate separately their conW- dence in using English and Spanish when writing. 3.2.64) for English.8 (SD D . In the Wrst phone call. A total of 21 subjects were excluded. they were excluded from subsequent analyses. using a scale ranging from 1 (very bad) to 10 (excellent).3. Of these. The study diVered from Study 2 in that bilinguals responded to the BFI by telephone rather than using the traditional paper and pencil format.

3. A total of 170 bilinguals (66 men and 104 women) living in the San Francisco Bay Area participated. At the end of the second phone call.3. deduct- ing points for each mistake. gathering a larger sample required that we incur the cost of having participants answer the two versions of the BFI in the same session. individuals provided answers only to the other-language version of the BFI. To reduce memory eVects across the two presentations of the BFI.94 for English and . A bilingual judge scored the translated paragraphs. Stu- dents were contacted after they indicated being Spanish–English bilingual in a pre- testing form in “Introduction to Psychology” courses. and completed the BFI in English and Spanish. bilinguals engaged in a 5-min Wller task between answering the BFI in one language and the other.97 for Spanish). so no further participants were excluded. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 109 presentations of the BFI items.3. . The order of the language in which the BFI was provided was counterbalanced. 3. community residents were recruited by Xyers or mail. Study 4: Bilinguals from the San Francisco bay area.3. Students who did not dem- onstrate a minimum level of bilingual competency in this interview were excluded from the study. California Studies 2 and 3 had two important limitations: the sample sizes were very small and the measurement of bilingualism was largely based on self-reports. In Study 4. The order of the language in which the interviews were conducted was counterbalanced across participants. to check for inter-judge reliability. Individuals who reported not being able to translate the paragraphs were excluded from the study. N.1. both students and community residents were asked to translate two short paragraphs (one in English and one in Spanish) into the other language. The results showed strong agreement between the judges (with an inter-judge correlation of . Procedure Bilinguals in a single session translated the test paragraphs. In the lab. Part of the sample received course credit for their participation (n D 143) and others volunteered to take part (n D 27). On average participants got 83–91% correct on both translation tests. In addition.3. In addition. answered some back- ground questions. the purpose of the study was revealed to the partici- pants. In the second phone call. However. 3. 3. another judge scored 10 randomly chosen translations. we addressed these limitations by recruiting a larger sample and taking several steps to ensure true bilingualism. Participants This study is based on a re-analysis of participants originally assessed as Study 2 of Benet-Martínez and John’s (1998) research on the structure of the English and Spanish versions of the BFI. Their mean age was 25 (SD D 10). Ramírez-Esparza et al.2. 3. Measurement of bilingualism Students were reached by telephone and asked a series of questions in both Span- ish and English to corroborate their bilingualism status.

25 (p < .68 (corresponding to Extraversion in Study 3) to . The eVect size was . Extra- version scores are higher in English than in Spanish. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 3. Moreover. To estimate the eVect size of the diVerences in the bilingual samples a d (which is an unbiased estimator of the population eVect size) was derived by comput- ing the diVerence between the means across languages (i.05). This can be broken into two questions. 1 presents the results of all three studies along with Sample 1 for comparison purposes. Do we Wnd the same pattern of diVerences across bilingual samples (Studies 2–4)? Is that pattern consistent with personality diVerences obtained in the cross-cultural sample (Study1)? We tested these questions by conducting Wve meta-analyses to evaluate the eVect sizes of any cross-language diVerences. Agree- 1 Note that the means of the monolingual samples in Study 1 are slightly smaller than the means of the bilingual samples (Studies 2–4). In all three bilingual samples. 3.. Study 1).4. 2003). where English-speakers in the US scored higher than Spanish-speakers in Mexico. In all three bilingual samples. Follow-up analyses in other monolingual samples from Mexico (n D 53) and the US (n D 53) suggested that these mean diVerences could be attributed to a “web eVect. The pattern of Wndings is quite clear. and reassuringly. Preliminary analyses Preliminary analyses were done to determine psychometric equivalence of the English and Spanish versions of the BFI.80 (p < . to the test–retest correlations reported for the BFI in one lan- guage (Table 3. Results for studies 2–4 3. and the replicability of the Wndings across the bilingual samples. Extraversion Fig.001). Spanish) and dividing it by the standard deviation of the diVerences between paired correlations (see Johnson & Eagly. most of the means of monolinguals who responded to the BFI on paper and pencil were very similar to the means in the three bilingual samples. Gosling.1..” In particu- lar. The mean test–retest correlation across dimensions and studies was . the non-web monolingual samples demonstrated the same pattern of cross-cultural personality diVerences as those found in the web sample of monolinguals (i.2.93 (corresponding to Extraversion in Study 4). These analyses were conducted by correlat- ing the means of the English and Spanish BFI on each of the factors. The resulting cross-language test–retest correlations were strong. Rentfrow.4. English vs.e. Agreeableness Fig. 2 presents the results of all three studies along with Sample 1 for comparison purposes. 3. Furthermore.4.110 N. Again the pattern of Wndings is clear. & Swann.3. Personality diVerences across languages Recall that the purpose of this investigation was to test for robust and replicable support for the CFS eVect.e.4.4. . the cross-language discrepancies are consistent with the discrepancies found in the cross-cultural sample (Study 1). Ramírez-Esparza et al.4. ranging from . 2000).1 3. These results are comparable.

3 presents the results of all three studies along with Sample 1 for comparison purposes. . the cross-lan- guage discrepancies are consistent with the discrepancies found in the cross-cultural sample (Study1). 3. Fig. The eVect size was . 1. Consci- entiousness scores are higher in English than in Spanish. Conscientiousness Fig.51 (p < . Mean Agreeableness scores in English and Spanish. 2. where English-speakers in the US scored higher than Spanish- speakers in Mexico. the cross-lan- guage discrepancies are consistent with the discrepancies found in the cross-cultural sample (Study 1).44 (p < . Furthermore.4. In all three bilingual samples. Mean Extraversion scores in English and Spanish. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 111 Fig. Furthermore.001). Ramírez-Esparza et al.5.001). Again the pattern of Wndings is clear. where English-speakers in the US scored higher than Spanish- speakers in Mexico. N. The eVect size was . ableness scores are higher in English than in Spanish.

where English-speakers in the US scored lower than Spanish-speakers in Mexico. . Furthermore. The pattern of Wndings is again consistent. 3. Ramírez-Esparza et al. the eVect size of the diVerence was small (d D ¡0. 3. 5 presents the results of all three studies along with Sample 1 for comparison purposes. 4. Neuroticism Fig. The Wndings reveal that although the diVerences were in the same direction for all samples of bilinguals. Fig. 4 presents the results of all three studies along with Sample 1 for comparison purposes.4. Moreover. 3.112 N. Neuroticism scores are lower in English than in Spanish.13 (ns).6. the results were not consistent with those found in the cross-cultural study of monolinguals. Openness Fig. the cross-lan- guage discrepancies are consistent with the discrepancies found in the cross-cultural sample. Mean Neuroticism scores in English and Spanish. The eVect size was ¡0. In all three bilingual samples.4. Mean Conscientiousness scores in English and Spanish. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 Fig.19.7. ns).

. & Hambleton. The only bilingual sample suYciently large to run the analyses is that from Study 4. Fortunately. For example. Extraversion has 8 items with a Likert scale that goes from 1 to 5 so the total score for any subject can vary from 8 to 40. 1997b). 1997b). Mean Openness scores in English and Spanish. The Wrst step was to divide the responses into two groups corresponding to the two lan- guages in which the questionnaire was administered. in this case. Item-bias analyses work by testing whether individual items function diVerently across contexts. Next. which is one of the Wrst techniques that has been applied to study item bias (Clearly & Hilton. rather than diVerences in the actual “personalities” of the partici- pants (McCrae et al. which used exactly the same instrument as that used in the other studies. we used the analysis of variance technique to test each of the BFI factors. In this investigation we used the analysis of variance method. it is important to address one potential alternative explanation for our bilingual Wndings. 5. 4. 1997b). 1997a. . the analytical tools needed to address this question are well developed and widely used in cross-cultural studies (Van de Vijver & Leung. Mazor. we derived interval variables by dividing the number of subjects into score level groups. Ramírez-Esparza et al. Following the steps proposed by Van de Vijver and Leung (1997a. 1998). 1968). SpeciWcally. 1994). This technique analyzes each item across score levels. Essentially. these item-bias or diVeren- tial-item functioning techniques test whether there are biased items within an instru- ment and can detect anomalies in instruments at the item level caused by poor translation (Van de Vijver & Leung. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 113 Fig. it is crucial to address the possibility that the diVerences in scores between the biling- uals’ scores on the English and Spanish version of the BFI are due to diVerences in the translations. N. Follow-up analyses of bilingual data Before speculating on the possible meaning of these results. Clauser. and requires medium-sized samples (see. to conduct a score-level analysis. across languages.

Three eVects are tested in the analyses of variance.2 2 Although originally developed in English. which shows whether there are signiWcant diVerences in average scores across intervals. An item is shown to be unbiased when both the main eVect for language and the language £ level interaction are nonsigniWcant. Many of these eVects are impressive in their simplicity. Finally.” Nevertheless. Each of the items within each factor are treated as the dependent variables. This F ratio is usually expected to be signiWcant because it is reXecting the fact that people in lower score levels have lower scores. Thus. The reverse-scored extraversion “is reserved” is vir- tually identical to the Spanish “es reservado. we performed 2 £ 6 analyses of variance for each item of the BFI. if we consider the mean for each item across score levels. These proce- dures. In other words. the items were not anomalous nor were they understood diVerently by the bil- inguals across languages. the Spanish version of the BFI underwent rigorous con- struction procedures including the use of back translations (Benet-Martínez & John. This suggests that the cross-language diVerences cannot be attributed to translation diVerences in the instrument and lends support to the CFS interpretation. 19 (or 73%) were in the English > Spanish direction. To allow us to approximate the recommended number of subjects in each interval (i. The two groups (corresponding to the language in which the instrument was administered) and the interval levels are treated as independent variables in the analyses of vari- ance. A signiWcant main eVect indicates the existence of a uniform bias (Mellenbergh. around 50.114 N. the item- bias analyses indicated that only one of the 44 items functioned diVerently across translations. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 participants are grouped together according to their extraversion score. Agreeableness. This item should be revised before it is used in future cross-cultural research.e. . a signiWcant interaction indicates the existence of a nonuniform bias (Mellenbergh.. This means that the diVerences of means between English and Spanish vary across score levels. In other words. 1997b). those completing the scale in English are lower (p D . This means that the curve of diVerences of means between the groups is consistently above or below zero. McClelland & Judd. The anomalous item was “has an active imagination”/“tiene una imagi- nación activa” from the Openness scale. the item is anomalous because it is discriminating diVerently across score levels. In- deed. For example. Ramírez-Esparza et al. 1982). Van de Vijver & Leung. The remaining two eVects are the ones that should be scrutinized for possible item bias.07) across score levels than when completing the scale in Spanish. to summarize the analyses. 1982). The fact that we did not Wnd any other biased items hints that the items were invariant across score levels (Mellenbergh. if we Wnd a signiWcant main eVect for the item “has an assertive personality. indicate that the diVerences found across languages are not the result of an anomalous question or two within each of the factors. we formed 6 levels.” it means that bilinguals when answering the question- naire in English have consistently higher means across the score levels than when answering the questionnaire in Spanish. 1993). Although power was less than optimal (see. The Wrst is the eVect of score level. 1982). plus the results reported in this investigation for the item-bias analyses. and Conscientiousness. we found that of the 26 items comprising Extraversion. 1998). 1997a. whereas people at higher score levels have higher scores. A non- uniform bias would indicate that the item is understood diVerently in the diVerent languages.

Do the personality shifts documented here undermine the very concept of person- ality. on average participants used Spanish in 34% (SD D 24%) and 32% (SD D 19%) of their daily interactions for Studies 2 and 4. where personality can simultaneously show continuity and change. Discussion The main goal of this investigation was to examine whether the CFS eVect among bilinguals can also be found for personality. The cross-language personality diVerences for Neuroticism were relatively small and the diVerences for Openness were not consistent with the cross-cultural diVerences identiWed in Study 1. argue against this interpretation. and conscientious in English than in Spanish and these diVerences were consistent with the personality displayed in each culture. an example would be a person who becomes more conscientious as he ages but retains his rank in the group because most people become more conscientious as they age (Srivastava et al. agreeable. for example. ensuring that both lan- guages were still actively used.. also see Benet-Martínez & John. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 115 5. This phenomenon is similar to the pat- tern of age changes described by Caspi and Roberts (1999). In Studies 2 and 4 we speciWcally asked participants to indicate the percentage of time they were currently using Spanish and English. this explanation would not explain why the shifts are in the direction of cultural prototypes. These Wndings indicate that although participants were actively involved in an English-speaking country they . in other words. the language- dependent personality shifts documented here are consistent with the age-related shifts in for just of the some personality traits and not others. We found that bilinguals were more extraverted. instead a bilingual becomes more extraverted when she speaks English rather than Spanish but retains her rank ordering within each of the groups. this expla- nation would predict that the culture-related personality shifts should be consistent with age-related shifts for all traits. an alternative expla- nation would be that language use was confounded with developmental changes. However. we tested whether bilinguals show diVerent personalities in English and in Spanish and whether these diVerences are consistent with diVerences between English and Spanish-speaking cultures. perhaps some of the bilinguals spent some signiWcant part of their early lives in Spanish-speaking environments and then. If this were true. their responses in Spanish would reXect their childhood personality and their responses in English would reXect their adult person- ality. Second. the participants underwent stringent tests for bilingualism. became bilingual through the learning of English. not just some of them. which is meant to persist across time and situations? The correlations between the Spanish and English versions of the questionnaire are very strong (mean r D . 2003).. We assessed the robustness of the eVects by seeking replication across studies. Three facts. Thus. SpeciWcally. however. the fact that a participant has one personality in one language and another personality in the other language would not so much be a function of culture as it would be a function of age-related personality diVerences (Srivastava et al. later. N. an extrovert does not suddenly become an introvert as she switches languages. 1998). Third. First. as noted above. 2003). Ramírez-Esparza et al.80. respectively. We have interpreted the Wndings in terms of CFS. This suggests that individuals tend to retain their rank ordering within a group but the group as a whole shifts.

Social Leadership. In short.. conformity. which are supposed to be higher in collectivist cultures such as Mexico. John & Srivastava. the observed diVerences might be driven by unusually high scores on speciWc facets such as asser- tiveness (Extraversion). and consci- entious could underlie the expression of an independent self. The direct path to self-enhancement has been well documented in European Americans (Heine.. the independent selves also regulate their behavior when interacting with others. all of which are related to the assertiveness found in Extraversion. expressing positive emotions. 1984) and collectivism (e. 1991). For example. agreeable. Markus. These labels better convey the fact that. and goals. group oriented. 1996). Markus and Kitayama (1991) describe the inde- pendent self as emphasizing directness in communication. Social Activity. 1991). Unfortunately. the combination of being extraverted. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 also maintained contact with their Spanish-language. Outgoing. Ramírez-Esparza et al. 1991). Robins & John. attributes. and Conscientiousness scores in Americans and English-speaking bilinguals were driven by self-enhancement tendencies. Markus & Kitayama. SpeciWcally. and ‘superWcial’ friendli- ness (Agreeableness). There are two potential paths leading to self-enhancement in these samples. it is worth noting that Extraversion has variously been labeled Dominant-Initiative. 1999. being unique and express- ing the self. which characterizes American culture (Markus & Kitayama. value for smooth and pleasant rela- tionships. 1999). Why then do Americans and bilinguals using English score higher in Extraversion. the apparently surprising Wndings become less surprising when one examines the speciWc facets that comprise the broad Wve factors. and Conscientiousness than Mexicans and bilinguals using Spanish? Two possible mechanisms shed light on this enigma. Fur- thermore.116 N. Lehman. Agreeableness.. . According to Markus and Kitayama. the BFI does not include Big Five facet scales so it was not possible to test this explanation empirically in the pres- ent samples. such as Mexico). Extraversion reXects assertiveness (a value emphasized in individual- ist cultures such as the US) rather than emotional expressiveness (value emphasized in collective cultures. The Wnding (from Study 1) that Americans are higher than Mexicans in Extra- version and Agreeableness—and that similar cross-language diVerences are found in Spanish–English bilinguals (from Studies 2 to 4) may seem to be inconsistent with cultural concepts such as simpatía (e. research has shown that Mexican Americans value “simpatía” more strongly than Anglo-Americans do (Marín & Marín. where independents selves are promoted. one direct and the other indirect. The second potential explanation for the pattern of Wndings is that the relatively high Extraversion. Triandis et al. thereby arguing against the possibility that language use was confounded with developmental stage. Along these lines.g. and Dominance (see. Mexican Americans tend to be more collectivist than European Ameri- cans (Freeberg & Stein. emphasis in harmonious interpersonal relationships. The independent self also enjoys making reference to its own abilities. achievement (Conscientiousness). despite the folk understanding of its common label. First. all of which would be manifested in terms of high scores on the achievement facet of conscientiousness. & Kitayama. driving agreeable scores higher. traits that are related to individualist cultures.g. Agentive. Agreeableness.

However. future research should focus on testing these eVects in large . Peru- vian American. our stringent tests of bilingualism resulted in a relatively small sample of bilinguals in Mexico so we could not test the CFS phenomenon in biculturals living in Mexico. our Wndings showed only mixed evidence for self-enhancement in Americans and bilinguals speaking English.g. Chilean American. Peruvian. future studies should examine the eVects of accul- turation on CFS.) in the US and in other parts of the world. Note that in this study. Without such an explanation. As noted above. 1999).. A self-enhancement interpretation would have to explain why partici- pants should enhance on some evaluative traits but not others. although truly bilingual sam- ples are hard to get. the CFS phenomenon in bilinguals could be triggered by an interplay of a self-enhancing personality (characteristic of individualistic American. future studies should examine emotional expressiveness. Colombian. when primed by the English language. Ramírez-Esparza et al. 1997). Chilean. First. / Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 99–120 117 1997) and is more frequent in individualistic cultures than in collectivist cultures (Heine & Lehman. that is. 5. Are bilinguals perceived as more extraverted.1. Colombian American. The indirect path to self-enhancement is based on the Wnding that agreeable people tend to provide positively biased self-views (Grimm & Church. agreeable. this group did indeed have higher scores on Extraversion. Fourth. and Conscientious- ness. there is less need for positive self-evaluation. Second. a trait purported to be characteristic of collectivist cultures. Accordingly. one of the eVects of becoming more agree- able could be to provide positively enhanced self-views. N. participants become more agreeable. and conscientious when they speak in English rather than Spanish? Third.. Do bilinguals who are more acculturated to the US have a greater (or lesser) shift of personality when they change languages? Does bilinguals’ ethnic self-identiWcation mediate personality shifts? Finally. 1998). Spanish- speaking culture). Agreeableness. etc. but the self-enhancement eVects for Openness and Neuroticism were mixed and weak. and less value placed on personal attributes. This would permit us to test whether personality shifts are the result of speciWc facets. Agreeableness correlates positively with the use of self-enhancement tendencies (Paulhus & John. future research should extend these CFS personality eVects to other types of Spanish-monolinguals (e. future studies should examine CFS using narrower personality constructs.) and biculturals (e. Fifth. etc. Markus and Kitayama (1991) suggested that in collectiv- ist societies. Implications for future research These Wndings have several implications for future research. English-speaking culture) with a self-eVacing personality (characteristic of collectivist Mexican.g. such as abnegation and assertiveness. Both the direct and the indirect paths to self-enhancement would lead to Americans and bilinguals using English to have more evaluative positive self-views than those held by Mexicans and bilinguals using Spanish. research should examine the extent to which these diVerences identiWed in self-reports extend to observer judgments. the current Wndings argue against a general self-enhancement inter- pretation. where an interdependent self is promoted.

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